The Prerelease has come and gone, and now is the real crunch time. For the first time ever, we have a set release lining up with an Invitational weekend, so while Dragons of Tarkir will become legal for the first time on Friday, we will already be using the cards to battle for $20,000, a spot in the Players' Championship, and the chance to have our likeness immortalized on a token.
I didn't mean to drag on that last part, but the Invitationals are pretty serious business.
Last week , I wrote about some aggressive decks mainly focusing on what I felt were the two best Commands - Atarka's and Dromoka's. The G/W deck was pretty sweet. I learned quite a bit in regards to just how powerful Surrak, the Hunt Caller is in addition to how game-breaking Dromoka's Command can be in the right spots. I also got a lot of feedback about how the Warrior sub-theme was cute but not very effective.
Getting to five mana to use Sunblade Elf didn't happen too often, and when it did it wasn't game-breaking. There weren't really enough spells to take advantage of Seeker of the Way, and while Arashin Foremost is pretty sweet with a board full of Warriors, when it's by itself, it's pretty lackluster.
I felt like the shell was there for something that was pretty sweet, and after chatting with Stephen Horne a bit about the deck (since he had taken it up and had been testing it) I suggested going a little bit bigger and still being aggressive, but having threats that can hold their own and work better with Surrak, the Hunt Caller. With Surrak being a five-power creature, he works very well with three power creatures to get that first trigger of Formidable so that he can give himself haste. He had also mentioned that he wished that he had some way to protect his creatures, and thinking back to the old G/W decks, there was a time that they were running Gods Willing.
Here's where I'm at now:
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 4 Fleecemane Lion
- 4 Heir of the Wilds
- 4 Warden of the First Tree
- 1 Wingmate Roc
- 2 Boon Satyr
- 3 Brimaz, King of Oreskos
- 4 Surrak, the Hunt Caller
First off, I do think it's possible that the Wingmate Rocs could just be Whisperwood Elemental, and it's also possible that Collected Company is so bonkers that it needs to be in the maindeck. With 21 creatures in our maindeck and two more in the sideboard that get snagged by it, it might just be worth it. If I like the direction that the deck is taking this week, I may just have to try that out.
Collected Company seems like it's pretty awesome against all of the control decks, but it might just be great against the midrange and aggressive decks too. With Elvish Mystic to speed us up, we can be putting a lot of power into play on the third turn when we're on the play, and it will really help us to catch up on the draw. Getting to plop a Fleecemane Lion and a Brimaz, King of Oreskos into play on your opponent's attack step seems pretty sweet and goes a long way towards stabilizing.
I do have a couple concerns with the deck. Hordeling Outburst seems like a very good card against us. Our creatures can overpower it for sure, but it will be a great way for our opponents to gum up the board and stop an early onslaught of beefy creatures. Thankfully, the big payoff for this type of strategy is getting Outpost Siege into play, which is trumped by Dromoka's Command. Stormbreath Dragon can be a bit of an issue, but Surrak, the Hunt Caller can still attack through it.
One of the big changes though, is adding Gods Willing into the deck. I really like how this card is positioned right now. We got to a point where the threats are all extremely powerful, and they have just recently printed a bunch of conditional two-mana removal spells like Ultimate Price. Decks will evolve a bit to be leaner and try to take advantage of these powerful new removal spells. There will be a lot of games where a single Gods Willing will just flat out win the game. Saving a Brimaz, King of Oreskos, or a Surrak, the Hunt Caller will likely be game over, especially when we are only using one mana to counteract a two-or three-mana spell. There aren't a lot of ways for G/W to gain advantages like this, and Gods Willing seems particularly sweet. It also gives us a little protection when we are using our Dromoka's Command. Can you imagine how big of a blowout it will be when we try to fight with Dromoka's Command and they try to use a removal spell on our creatures only for us to counter it with Gods Willing?
My other concern is Whisperwood Elemental. It may require that we go back to a full four Valorous Stance in the maindeck to combat the elemental. We do have Dromoka's Command to fight it, but that requires a Brimaz or a Surrak for it to be profitable. We can also have a monstrous Fleecemane Lion I suppose, but that seems like a lot of work. It may be worthwhile to have some Epic Confrontation in the sideboard since it can also handle Goblin Rabblemaster, Monastery Mentor, and Courser of Kruphix just like Silkwrap. It can also kill Whisperwood Elemental and Stormbreath Dragon with the right set up.
G/W is definitely on my list of possible decks for this weekend in Richmond. I tweeted last week that I had been brewing a Jund deck now that we have Ultimate Price and Roast. I haven't had a chance to test it yet, but I have had enough people message and tweet me that they are interested in seeing it, so here is where I am currently.
- 4 Elvish Mystic
- 4 Goblin Rabblemaster
- 3 Heir of the Wilds
- 4 Stormbreath Dragon
- 4 Sylvan Caryatid
- 3 Boon Satyr
- 4 Polukranos, World Eater
Trying to build something like this really made me miss all of the tools that we had available to us during the Jund Monsters era. We still have a big chunk of the threats available with the "Monsters" (Stormbreath Dragon and Polukranos, World Eater), and Xenagos, the Reveler is still great, but what we are missing is our flexible early interaction cards that had huge impact late in the game. Scavenging Ooze was a huge part of the deck before, and until I jammed three up from the normal one or two that we were running, I didn't really understand it. The card was everything we wanted; an early threat that could take over, and a late threat that would take over. We are also missing Domri Rade and Mizzium Mortars, two cards that were impactful in the early and late stages of a game. Lastly, we are missing Rakdos's Return out of the sideboard, as that was the slam dunk against other midrange decks and control decks.
What we do have, however, is a new set of cards. They aren't as flexible as the predecessors, but they can still pack a punch. Heir of the Wilds is a great attacker and is good on defense. It's not the best lategame draw, but it still fills a role. We no longer have Ghor-Clan Rampager to help push through our Goblin Rabblemasters, but we have a couple different cards. Roast and Ultimate Price are both going to be great for creating holes for our Rabblemasters to attack through. We also have the flexible Boon Satyr to create some situations that are unfavorable for our opponent, and we also have the new Kolaghan's Command. This lets us be very aggressive with our Goblin Rabblemasters, trading them for other creatures and then either killing a creature or making our opponent discard a card while getting a Rabblemaster back from our graveyard to our hand.
It's possible that Courser of Kruphix should just be in the deck over the Goblin Rabblemaster like in the real old versions of the deck, but I think I still like Goblin Rabblemaster since we aren't taking advantage of Courser like we used to with Domri Rade. On the same note, Reaper of the Wilds might be worth looking at again too. It was great in the past because there were a limited number of removal spells that hit it, and while it is vulnerable to Roast, if we untap with it, we have a pretty big game.
There may be a spot in the sideboard for Display of Dominance since it can kill Whip of Erebos and Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, which might end up being important on the draw. Saving something from a Hero's Downfall is just the icing on the cake.
I really like Self-Inflicted Wound in a deck like this. Being able to remove a Sylvan Caryatid and set our opponents back a turn, snagging a Courser of Kruphix that will let us attack freely, and helping try to negate the blocker combined with the lifegain that Siege Rhino provides will end up being pretty important.
I've also been more and more interested in the applications of Deathbringer Regent as a potential sideboard card against the Sylvan Caryatid decks. It's a great way to clean up a board littered with Sidisi, Brood Tyrant and her zombies, or the Queen Bee and all of her hornets. It's also pretty decent against Hordeling Outburst and the like if we can stay alive long enough to get it into play. Seven mana isn't really all that much anymore since Sylvan Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix are both making games go forever.
Again, this hasn't been tested, but I've had enough people express their interest in my thought processes on how to build the deck, so I obliged and shared.
With all of the focus on the new Standard format, I think that people are forgetting a little bit that the Invitational is multiple formats. Legacy is still pretty ripe since there have only been a handful of large events since Treasure Cruise was banned. We have seen a lot of Sultai Delver and Sultai Control decks pop up. With Treasure Cruise being gone, people have looked to decks that can take advantage of a couple copies of Dig Through Time and still pull ahead with Deathrite Shaman and Liliana of the Veil. Liliana was pretty neutered with Treasure Cruise around since the discard was pretty irrelevant when everyone could just recoup at any point when they drew a Treasure Cruise.
With all of the Delver decks coming back in full force, I am thinking of two possible directions that I could go. The first would be back to Sneak and Show. The Delver matchups always have a bit of an ebb and flow to them depending on how much hate is being played, and with Treasure Cruise gone, there are less and less maindeck Pyroblasts being played, which is a good thing. Most Delver decks are very weak to an early Show and Tell, so putting as much pressure on them as possible to have an answer to that is huge. Plus, with everyone going the Sultai route, Blood Moon gains a lot of value out of the sideboard.
The other direction I am considering is Shardless Sultai. I've always liked the playstyle of the deck, I think that Liliana of the Veil is extremely good right now, and I think that Shardless Sultai is the best Liliana of the Veil deck.
I've only got a couple days left to figure it out, so I should probably get to work. See everyone in Richmond!